It’s an essential part of the human condition. If you had no fear, you’d be dead by now. If your ancestors had no fear, you never would have been born. A healthy level of fear keeps us from walking out in front of oncoming e-bikes, getting eaten by dangerous animals, and swimming near rocks in a roiling ocean. Taken to an extreme, an unhealthy level of fear can keep us from going outdoors, from meeting new people, or from speaking up in meetings.
In an article on the positive benefits of fear, Andrew Colin Beck coined the term EuFear, for “positive fear” (eu being the Latin prefix for “good” or “positive”), building on the work of Hans Selye, who originated the concept of eustress in 1974.
Selye argued that there is a positive cognitive response to stress that is healthy and gives one a sense of fulfillment and focus. Similarly, Beck suggests that we need a new paradigm for fear as well, one that looks at the benefits of fear, not only the negative effects. His model reframes fear as a motivator and proposes a fear continuum ranging from no fear to full fear, with EuFear being the desired functional state.
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